Turning dog paddlers into swimmers
PADUCAH — According to a recent WPSD Facebook poll, you are looking forward to watching swimming and diving during this year's summer Olympics.
The big question this summer isn't if you're on Team Jacob or Team Edward, a la the Twilight series. It's if you're rooting for Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte.
But before Phelps or Lochte competed in front of millions, they competed in front of dozens or less, probably at a local community pool.
While the drowning rates have gone down over the past decade, according to the CDC, drowning is still the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4.
To help combat that statistic, a local woman has spent countless hours turning dog paddlers into swimmers.
Fear is an emotion we've all felt but one Angela Greenwell works hard to help kids overcome.
"If i can help them at this little tender stage to overcome that mountain of fear, yes, I am mighty proud of this accomplishment."
She has a lot to be proud of. She's been teaching kids to swim for 45 years. She lost count after 10,000 kids.
The class we saw her teaching is supposed be her last. But even at 77, the mermaid still isn't sure she's ready to hang up her fins.
"Lord only knows where I'll be next year," she said.
The problem certainly isn't endurance. We watched her tread water for most of a two-hour class, while her kids watched and listened.
It's easy to see the love between teacher and student goes both ways.
"I've made such wonderful little friends," she said.
But this class isn't just about fun. It's also about keeping kids alive.
"We live one breath at a time," Greenwell said. "Swimming is one breath at a time, one bubble at a time."
When we do that, we can enjoy the water and throw our fear away.
"I don't believe in failure with anybody," Greenwell said.
Greenwell has taught in three states, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky.
She is also an active community member in Alexander County and her family said they won't be surprised if she decides not to retire just yet.